Social Services office vandalized, closed in Columbia

July 26, 2002|By Jason Song and Larry Carson | Jason Song and Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The state Department of Social Services office in Howard County was closed yesterday after it was vandalized and robbed overnight, authorities said.

A security guard noticed a broken window at the facility, in the 7100 block of Columbia Gateway Drive, about 7 a.m. yesterday and notified authorities, Howard police said.

When they arrived, police discovered that someone had entered the building and "pretty much trashed the place," said Cpl. Lisa Myers, a county police spokeswoman.

The intruders overturned furniture, broke equipment and stole several computers. It did not appear that they had targeted specific offices or areas of the building and police did not know of a motive or suspect, Myers said.

The building has an alarm system, but it was not set off, police officials said.

Because of the mess, police and social services workers were not sure yesterday how many computers had been stolen.

While the 140 workers at the office handle sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, it was highly unlikely that anyone could gain access to such information because they would have to know several passwords to breach the system, state officials said.

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